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School Navigator Website For St. Louis Parents Relaunched With New Backers

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio
Recruiting students is a big priority of public educators, but combing through the choices can be confusing for parents. A new website helps parents search and sort.

Magnet, charter, neighborhood, choice: The different types of schools in urban public education can be a lot to decipher, even a few decades into the so-called “school choice” era.

A website that helps St. Louis parents pilot it all has relaunched with updated data and a new name. 

NavigateSTLschools.org is run by a nonprofit, taking over the work started by a couple of confused but tech-savvy parents about six years ago. St. Louis Public Radio profiled the Brockmeyers in 2014 after they started the site stlcityschools.org from their living room. 

NagivateSTLSchools' board director is Gloria Nolan, who went through a similar head-scratching experience trying to find a school for her two children. Nolan graduated from St. Louis Public Schools before moving away from St. Louis. When she returned with young kids more than 15 years later, she found the education landscape had shifted quite a bit.

“A lot of times you don’t know what you don’t know as a parent, and it can be overwhelming,” she said.

The launch of the site comes at a time when the usual school recruitment season has been curtailed because of the pandemic. A charter school advocacy organization held a school fair virtually, but door-to-door recruitment that charter schools often conduct had to be canceled and parents haven’t been able to tour schools.

NavigateSTLSchools allows parents to search for schools by more than location. The database includes statistics such as academic performance, students' demographics and attendance, but also whether the school requires uniforms, provides transportation or offers after-school care.

“I think that the idea was to put all of that information in one place and make it accessible for every type of family,” Nolan said.

NavigateSTLSchools is funded through donations, largely from the Opportunity Trust, a local education advocacy organization.

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @rpatrickdelaney

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org

Ryan was an education reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.